The Tampa Bay Lightning came into Wednesday’s tilt as the heavy favourite after they clobbered the New York Islanders Monday night. It’s early in the series but it does beg the question: is this Islanders team for real or are they playing well above their true capabilities?
Outside of Mat Barzal, the Islanders don’t really have much in terms of star power. Of course, you can never discount the ability of JG “Two Chicken Parms” Pageau to impact a playoff game. That being said, the Islanders will have to continue to rely on strong defensive structures and scoring by committee if they stand a chance of taking down the Lightning in seven games or less.
As NKB pointed out, this Islanders team reminds us a bit of the 2017 Senators. So, will the Islanders falter and end their bid for the Stanley Cup here in the Eastern Conference Finals? Or will they do something the 2017 Sens couldn’t: book their ticket to the big dance.
Tampa Bay Lightning 2, New York Islanders 1
To save face after an absolute beating in game one, the Islanders came out strong on Wednesday night with Matt Martin getting his team on the board just over a minute into the first frame. It took less than a period, however, for the Lightning to get themselves on the gamesheet. At the end of the opening period, Victor Hedman’s point shot found its way through traffic and beat Semyon Varlamov to tie things up.
On the goal, Hedman extended his goal streak to four games, tying Paul Coffey for the record for defenders in a postseason.
With mere seconds left, and a certain someone looking to hit the hay, Nikita Kucherov sealed the win for the Lightning with a beautiful one timer.
Taking a commanding 2-0 lead heading into game three is exactly where the Lightning wanted to be when the puck dropped on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Islanders, who played a very solid game, they’re in an unenviable spot heading into Friday’s tilt.
After falling in game one, the Vegas Golden Knights came out flying in the second game of the series to turn this one into a best of five. The Golden Knights outshot the Stars 32 to 24, won the majority of the faceoffs, scored more on the powerplay, delivered more hits and took less penalties - all while Robin Lehner closed the door on every single shot he faced. After chasing Anton Khudobin from the net, you have to assume the Stars will return to the goalie who got them this far. That being said, Jake Oettinger will be ready if Khudobin looks shaky early on.
Relying heavily on stars like Tyler Seguin, Miro Heiskanen and Jamie Benn, will the Stars come to play tomorrow night or will they be yet another set of jesters in the Golden Knights’ court?